By Paul Dix
Residents fear existing parking problems will get worse with the planned overhaul of Headingley stadium.
Detailed plans for the £43m renovation at the world-famous cricket and rugby ground were unveiled to the public last month.
The stadium, home to Yorkshire County Cricket Club, Leeds Rhinos rugby league team and Yorkshire Carnegie rugby union club, has been part of Headingley’s history for around 110 years.
It is hoped the renovation will enable it to retain an international cricket ground status and host the 2019 Cricket World Cup.
But residents fear the plans, which could mean an increase of about 1,000 spectators, will lead to traffic chaos.
Ciaran Fletcher, 20, of Headingley Avenue said: “Parking on game days is an absolute nightmare, I can’t go out because I know when I get back that I just won’t be able to get a space on my return. I dread to think how it’s going to be when more seats are available.”
Chris Heppell, also 20, of Estcourt Avenue, agreed: “The parking situation absolutely dreadful even now. I can’t see it getting any better either.”
Coun Neil Walshaw, 41, who represents Headingley on Leeds City Council, said: “You can’t expand the existing car park because that would mean more traffic would be encouraged to come to Headingley and the roads would be impossible to negotiate. So it’s inevitable that the roads will all be parked on.”
The ground has a shared stand, which is in desperate need of repair and currently works at a reduced capacity due to health and safety issues.
The plans, which include £28.5m to renovate the shared stand, will see the overall official capacity of the rugby ground reduced by 775 – from 21,522, down to 20,747 – but because the shared stand is not currently operating at capacity, in reality spectator numbers will increase.
The cricket ground will have a capacity increase of 1,700 – from 17,500 to 19,200.
A spokesman from Leeds Rhinos Rugby Club said: “A full traffic system has been integrated into the management plan for the stadium’s renovation.”
Coun Neil Walshaw, added: “The fact that the cricket has a more international audience means that public transport and the park and ride are more likely to be used.”
However, he said both Leeds Rhinos and Yorkshire Carnegie rugby clubs have a much more local demographic.
“There is a constant dialogue between the clubs and the police, which will help sort out a more effective traffic management plan.
“Parking though, is an issue, particularly for the rugby. Permit parking is too difficult, as the surrounding areas consist of many student houses.”
He said any scheme that deterred spectators from parking in Headingley would be bad for local businesses – with visitors using facilities and spending money elsewhere.
“We want to help residents, without hindering the local area,” he said.
As well as providing a suitable venue to host the 2019 Cricket World Cup, it is hoped the renovation will impress the England and Wales Cricket Board, which plans to reduce the number of international test cricket stadiums from nine to six.
Headingley Carnegie Stadium is home to a variety of sporting teams: Yorkshire County Cricket Club, Leeds Rhinos and Leeds Carnegie. The rugby ground is at the south side of the complex, and the cricket ground is at the north side of the complex. The name Headingley Carnegie Stadium comes from the sponsorship from Leeds Beckett University, who have a sport faculty known as the Carnegie School of Sport Exercise and Physical Education. The cricket ground has been used for test cricket since 1899, and last held the Ashes in 2009.